|2015 is the first year Viet Nam has sent lychee to the US and Australia, where there are strict quarantine regulations on fruits. The north must transfer its lychee crops to the south for irradiation treatment until the new centre for irradiation becomes operational next year. — VNA/VNS Photo Quy Trung
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam expects to increase fresh fruit exports to the US and Australia next year following the US government's approval of irradiation as an effective quarantine system.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said on Sunday the ministry would work with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) to fund upgrades to an irradiation centre in Ha Noi, aiming to meet the north's demand for exporting agricultural products.
Previously the centre irradiated some agricultural products such as onions, garlic and dried medicinal herbs, but it operated on a small scale and not professionally, said Cao Dinh Thanh, deputy head of Viet Nam Atomic Energy Institute.
2015 is the first year Viet Nam has sent lychee to the US and Australia, where there are strict quarantine regulations on fruits. The north must transfer its lychee crops to the south for irradiation treatment until the new centre for irradiation becomes operational next year.
Phat assigned the Plant Protection Department and relevant agencies working with the Ha Noi Irradiation Centre under the Viet Nam Atomic Energy Institute to set up a plan to upgrade the centre. Viet Nam has two irradiation centres in the south approved by the US Department of Agriculture.
Irradiating produce in Ha Noi instead of shipping projects south will help ensure product quality, reduce export costs and increase buying prices for farmers' products. It would also move the north toward its long-term goal of exporting more regional products, Phat said.
Nguyen Xuan Hong, head of the Plant Protection Department, said it worked with US partners to make sure longan production in northern Hung Yen and Ha Noi satisfied safety standards for export.
"If the irradiation centre is not upgraded in time, the next longan crop will be transferred to the south for irradiation treatment before export," Hong said.
Dang Quang Thieu, director of the Ha Noi Irradiation Centre said, the upgrade was expected to cost VND30 billion (US$1.38 million).
"We imported the necessary equipment from Italy and South Korea," Thieu said.
"However, to meet the demand for fruit irradiation, we need VND9 billion ($416,000) more to build and upgrade storehouses," Thieu said.
The system will irradiate for 40 to 50 tonnes of lychee and longan per day, Thanh said.
Irradiation is an alternative phytosanitary pest treatment that replaces toxic, outdated methods like toxic chemical fumigation. — VNS